Can You Keep Up?

When faced with a project there are many ways to get it done. Here we have two types of strategies to approaching projects: agile and waterfall. Agile is quick paced and is likely to have more short-term goals that “keeps the teams at a constant high pace and productivity” ( Agile projects are not necessarily all short term but the iterations within the project are completed in short periods of time.
The article goes on to explain one of the principles of agile project management, which is time boxing. It “establishes cadence and, after two or three iterations, the team learns how much output they can produce.” Time boxing is not as flexible as other project management techniques. There is a set time frame for each aspect of the project and “it doesn’t matter if you can’t do them to perfection. Completing the task is the goal” (
We can also use cadence in waterfall projects as well. Waterfall is a more traditional approach. Some may say that it’s not as effective as other approaches or to avoid this technique, and others find it is efficient. It follows a stricter schedule, and includes very important details; even the smallest detail is an important one.
Using cadence for waterfall projects can help move the team to being as high energy as the teams in the agile projects. The first point of cadence is keeping a weekly schedule with milestones being completed. The first week should be the week that everyone gathers his or her information. When they meet again at the end of the week the project manager adjusts the schedule to fit the conditions of the information. Which brings us to the second point of cadence: “is the next milestone still on track?” ( The PM adjusts the schedule at the meeting and they settle the next steps there so that the team knows what is happening. To me this seems kind of similar to crashing. The team and project manager adjust the schedule if need be on a weekly basis whereas crashing would most often occur as one point and would adjust each critical path to crash it down to the desired time frame.
The author of the article also provides some suggests as to planning milestones. One of which was timing between milestones should not be too far apart not too close together. I feel that with everything we learned in class, timing is the most flexible yet most critical part of managing the project. You can crash a project down from 14 weeks down to 10 weeks and if you don’t do it right you may be incurring more cost than you should be. If something doesn’t go as planned then you need to be sure you allowed yourself that extra time to adjust anything you need.

So now I turn it over to you:

How do you like to approach projects?
Do you have another strategy to approaching projects?

Coffee and Cigarettes, Minus the Cigarettes

Coffee and cigarettes are hand-in-hand products, almost perfect complements to each other; both providing their users with deflated wallets and horrible breath. Walk around any city or town in the early morning and you will undoubtedly observe multiple people enjoying both vices concurrently. There have even be major films entitled ‘Coffee and Cigarettes’. In popular culture, the pair is like Ben and Jerry, Beef & Broccoli, Shoes and socks. Unlike those other relationships, coffee and cigarettes are not a unanimously accepted pair. There are definitely many coffee drinkers who find cigarette smokers repulsive, and perhaps vice versa. Still, with such an inherent blend in product culture, one would assume most coffee shops would welcome cigarette smokers to their establishment without limits. If a company really wanted to thrive, maybe they’d pursue a pack-and-mug combination, giving the fiends their fix in an orderly fashion. Yet Starbucks has recently implemented a polar opposite plan…

On June 1, 2013, Starbucks initiated their ban of smoking on premises. This policy, which prohibits patrons from smoking within 25 feet of a Starbucks establishment, will take affect company-wide immediately. According to the Wall Street Journal, “roughly 7,000 company-operated cafes in the US” have adopted this policy. This does not include “licensed stores” which are those locations found in larger establishments such as Barnes & Noble or Target. Many Starbucks locations contain outdoor seating areas, which provide space for customers to sprawl out, enjoy their coffee, the weather, and finish any pending work. These areas will officially be off-limits to cigarette smoke.

From an organizational standpoint this decision comes as quite a surprise. Although Starbucks consumers, and coffee drinkers for that matter, are primarily mobile customers; many enjoy the comforts of the establishment. As a company, Starbucks promotes itself as inviting and welcoming, allowing customers to make use of their Wi-Fi and use their stores as work sites. One should not presume that all coffee drinkers are cigarette smokers, yet it is a fairly safe assumption that those who consume both make up a rather significant portion of Starbucks’ client base. Starbucks is essentially alienating this faction of their customers through the implementation of this new policy. Many customers may suddenly feel unwelcomed at a place they once visited frequently. This policy states, on the surface, that those customers can take their business elsewhere, or buy their coffee and take it on the road. A Starbucks spokeswoman stated, “we take pride in providing a comfortable environment at our stores where customers and members of the community gather.” In an attempt to appease the community at large, (which is most commonly against smokers) the company has distanced itself from this portion of their customers. It is probably safe to assume that a corporation as prominent as Starbucks did the necessary market research prior to making such a bold decision, but that does not eliminate the chance that this choice could come with major backlash.

Reebok: Using CrossFit to Fire Up the Intensity


Many of us have heard of the fairly new workout brand CrossFit that has been sweeping the world for the past decade or so (2000). Some of you may even participate in the ultra intensified fitness regiments at your local CrossFit gym, or “boxes” as the growing cult has come to call them.  For those of you who are unfamiliar with CrossFit, it is an exercise program that advocates a mix of aerobic exercise, body weight exercise, gymnastics, and Olympic weight lifting that requires an individual to “to keep up the intensity, each and every time.” What does CrossFit have to do with total quality management within a corporate conglomerate you ask?

Well it just so happens that Adidas recently purchased Reebok back in 2006 and the company has been struggling mightily ever since the latter lost its decade long contract to outfit the National Football League last April to its biggest rival, Nike. This loss will reportedly cost Adidas an estimate of upwards to $250 million in lost revenue annually, a crushing blow to a company that was already being scrutinized for its purchasing of the floundering organization that had become Reebok. Reebok has also suffered heavy losses from lawsuits regarding their falsified health claims of their new “toning” shoes that deceived consumers. These allegations were brought forth by the Federal Trade Commission and required Reebok to pay nearly $25 million in total refunds. To top it all off, there has been turmoil within the infrastructure of the organization as an investigation has been prompted relating to alleged fraud by two former executives. However, there may be a silver lining yet for this once promising business transaction as Adidas hopes that sponsoring CrossFit using their newly affiliated business partner Reebok as its representative will not only reverse the current trend of posting a decline in sales the last three of five years, but also restore the brands image as a major powerhouse in the industry that is a force to be reckoned with.


Adidas continues to stand by there decision to purchase Reebok and hopes that their new two year deal with CrossFit will help them accomplish their goals that they set for themselves prior to their recent setbacks. In hopes of reaching the $3 billion objective for 2015, Adidas believes that their sponsorship of CrossFit will help speed up the process and provide them with some insurance they desperately need. The rapid growth of the CrossFit health craze is most certainly a positive sign for pulling Reebok out of the gutter as more than 3,000 gyms have popped up worldwide. The cult-like fitness routine seems it will continue to grow in popularity in the future as people gravitate towards the infectious atmosphere of the contagious motivation/energy and the promise of a complete workout in under 20 minutes. Will Adidas end up regretting their decision to purchase Reebok in the future? Or will the new addition of Reebok and the sponsorship of CrossFit pay off in the long run?




Wal-Mart Just Can’t Keep Products on the Shelves (In a Bad Way)

Wal-Mart Just Can’t Keep Products on the Shelves (In a Bad Way)

Wal-Mart has seemingly had a considerable amount of trouble keeping shelves in its stores adequately stocked since reducing the number of employees on staff at once in stores.  This is odd for a retail location since when products are not on shelves, there is not a large chance of them being purchased.  Especially disconcerting is that Wal-Mart has become the largest retailer in the world on the back of a supposed mastery of its supply chain.

Wal-Mart is now taking measures to ensure that the issue with product stocking is corrected.  The latest effort employed to do so is an external auditing process which entails a detailed process of checking each and every Wal-Mart location to make sure that products (when in stock) are on the shelves for consumption.

Wal-Mart refers to whether or not stores are adequately stocked via a metric known as on-shelf availability or OSA.  Due to the recent issues and the need to involve an external company to help stores ensure that they are stocked properly, shareholders are expected to vote at the next meeting as to whether or not Wal-Mart managers and executives should have their performance reviews and potential compensation tied to OSA.

When visiting a Wal-Mart location, check for neon green stickers next to the price tags on certain products; those are the ones that the auditors are going to be looking for.  Originally, the idea was to have the auditors go into the Wal-Mart stores and check on certain pre-determined items (unknown the store employees) and assign a grade based on how stocked those products were.  However, before the actual auditing process ended up taking place, it was determined that it would be beneficial to the employees at the stores to know the products that were being checked because those would most likely be highly driven items for the time of the year.  This entailed a rather tedious process for store managers as they had to allocate employees to the task of sticking green stickers next to products that needed to be stocked instead of actually just stocking them.

While the idea is good in theory, the actual outcome has been less than stellar since a good portion of the stores now have incredibly well-stocked green dot items with very poorly stocked products immediately next to them.  This should have been expected since the employees could focus purely on the products they would be evaluated on.

This situation is a very direct link to supply chain concept discussed in class.  In this case, the retail stores a sort of bottleneck.  After the products are produced and shipped to retail locations, they are not being put out fast enough to get to the customers.  Managers need to focus on properly allocating their limited employee resources to getting the task completed.

Do you think that this process will work?  How else could Wal-Mart improve its product stocking?


Retail to E-tail

There are a lot of pros and cons to doing online shopping as opposed to in-store shopping. Online shopping seems like it only affects consumers by giving them a different medium to make their purchases but we fail to realize that it affects the sellers as well. Through online purchases, businesses gather a lot of data about consumers. Sellers can track which sections of items are the most popular, which products are the most viewed and for how long, and which products are most browsed at but not bought. This gives online sellers a competitive advantage over in-store sellers as they know more about their customers. And everyone knows that the understanding your customer is one of the most important factors in having a successful business. This is empowering in-store sellers to seek e-commerce level data.

The article talks about one company that brings customer tracking data to in-store businesses. This is in hopes of slowly bridging the competitive gap between in-store purchases and online purchases. How can they possibly get consumer data without changing the in-store purchase process? By simply observing the customers! Prism Skylabs specializes in in-store surveillance equipment that tracks customer movement. Prism installs special cameras that captures everything in the store and then is sent to the store’s computers where it is processed by Prism’s special software. The images of the actual shoppers are cut out to respect their privacy.

What is so different about Prism’s techniques than regular surveillance cameras? Prism’s software allows them to “look at which products are hot, which are being moved around and touched, and all kinds of data that allow merchandise teams to understand what is going on across a wide range of stores”. This allows the sellers to get information that the type of information that online sellers use to enhance their systems to get more purchases.

Who is using Prism? Right now, Prism has partnered up with 30 retailers. Retailers that Prism is working with include T-Mobile and Famous Footwear. Does it actually work?  A candy store in Oklahoma City was using Prism in their stores and after close observation they changed their premium display to low-selling seasonal candy rather than their famous candies that buyers usually take the time to look through the store to buy. This allowed the store to quantify the customer’s thoughts and make an effective decision in their operations.

Moreover, Prism is not the only data providing company that is emerging. Other companies are picking up on the importance and building unique strategies and techniques to sell to businesses. For example, Shopkick is an app which personalizes deals for a customer in real time as they walk through the store.

Is it worth it to sellers to invest in these data gathering companies?

How do you feel as a consumer towards this type of innovation? Do you feel that you will be making more beneficial purchases or do you feel manipulated by the sellers to buy their preferred products?


Yahoo Or Google, Will Tumblr Change Which Website You Visit?

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For the past few years has struggled to keep its website and affiliates at par with its competitors, which include Google, Ask, and Bing. Yahoo has relentlessly tried to modify its site to meet the demands of its customers, as well as retain new users to visit the once sensational site. Three years ago Yahoo completely changed its design capacity for the site, going from a search engine with many links, to a website that prioritized news feed. This new integration has helped the site reach new heights, but has still left them in the dust compared to its main competitor, Google. Around the same time as Yahoo’s new design, which helped utilization and efficiency for the website, Google purchased an even bigger venture, known as YouTube. This astounding company has helped Google become a giant in their industry. In addition, Google recently has increased its stock share to over $900 per share, making it one of the highest growing stocks of this year. Yet Yahoo is still at a measly $26 per share, but has been increasing for the better part of six months. Why has Yahoo’s stock been increasing when Google has completely overwhelmed all of its competitors?

Today the answer to that question was given. According to CNN, Yahoo has purchased Tumblr for a record $1.1 billion. Clearly Yahoo is not afraid to spend money, as a famous person once said, “you need to spend money to earn it.” By purchasing Tumblr, Yahoo hopes to compete with Google at a much more even playing field. According to Wikipedia, Tumblr “is a microblogging platform and social networking website,” which “allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. Users can follow other users’ blogs, as well as make their blogs private.” Moreover, when Google purchased YouTube, Yahoo’s usage rate fell dramatically, and today they purchased Tumblr in hopes to change that. In addition, according to the CEO of Yahoo, Marissa Mayer, Tumblr “would allow the search engine to tap into a young, active online user base at the social network.” She goes on to say that our goal is to “engage Internet users and get them excited about using Yahoo again.”

I firmly believe that Google will always hold a slight edge over Yahoo, mainly because of its simplistic search engine. However, I do consider that this new business enterprise will dramatically increase user traffic on Yahoo’s website.  Do you think that Yahoo will finally be at par with Google, or will they continue to be an after thought in the search engine industry? Moreover, do you use Tumblr, and if so do you think this will prompt you to use Yahoo more often? These are questions I am very curious about, as I believe Yahoo will become a giant along side Google moving forward.

The Lighter the Better, Says American Airlines.

Do you ever find yourself incredibly frustrated when boarding an airplane? Travelers tend to find themselves wondering about the order in which everyone boards the aircraft. Recently, American Airlines decided to adopt a new method to allow passengers to board quicker. This new method saves about two minutes on average per flight. Although the new method does not necessarily make a large difference for passengers, it does cut about 6,000 minutes a day for the airline company. American Airlines longs to improve their on-time performance.

The airline’s previous method was arranged by groups. Each passenger was assigned either group 1, group 2, or group 3, starting with group 1 at the front of the plane. The new method permits passengers with only a carry-on item on the aircraft second. This carry-on item, however, must be small enough to only fit under the seat in front of them. Passengers who buy business class or first class tickets do however, board first. This new method benefits passengers because those that do not have large pieces of luggage enter the aircraft and immediately take their seats.  Additionally, more passengers were willing to check their bags in at the gate because in return, they got to avoid baggage fees and were allowed to board early. Once those passengers are seated, those with luggage pieces have an easier time boarding since all the overhead bins are empty. Do you think this new method makes more sense? Personally, I have always thought the best way would be to board those in the back of the airplane second, then the middle of the airplane third. Business class would still board first, however.

Virgin America has tried this boarding process about two years ago and decided it wouldn’t work for their company. The problems they encountered included debates between customers and employees about sizes of bags that would/would not fit under the seat in front of the passenger. Additionally, sometimes those passengers that boarded first used the overhead bins anyway. An airline consultant, Robert Mann, said this new boarding method can however, cut down American’s revenues from baggage fees.

I got to experience this new boarding method when I took a flight to/from Fort Lauderdale. I decided to check my bag in as I printed my boarding pass because I did not feel like lifting my bag and creating a line once I boarded the airplane. I was especially annoyed when I got to my gate and realized that the airline was allowing passengers to check-in their bags free of charge. I spent around $50 checking my bags in only to realize the airline was doing it for free. When I asked if I could get a refund I was told it was non-refundable. Although the new method makes complete sense and I support it, I do not think it is fair to trick loyal customers into spending unnecessary money on baggage fees. At the end of the day though, I am happy companies are trying to new methods to make traveling easier for customers.





Going Nuclear: Building the World’s Largest Puzzle

An international nuclear fusion project, known as Iter, has been making progress by finally gaining approval for the design of a component that will be one of the most challenging to install. In a forest of Provence in the south of France, there has been the construction of a site that’s purpose will be to harness the nuclear power of the sun and stars. 34 nations have joined together in what is known to be “the biggest scientific collaboration on the planet.” If this project succeeds, then global energy demand will increase by three-fold, and it will change our world that has been struggling with the fight against climate change.

This highly complex fusion reactor will be built with about a million individual parts and each component will come from different regions built around the world. Then it will be assembled “like a giant Lego model” in a building near the site. These individual parts can get as big as small houses, and the building they’re assembling it at is equal to 81 Olympic-sized swimming pools. I already cannot imagine what it will take and has taken to bring so many countries together and decide what is going to be built where. It reminds me back to one of our first classes where we made the paper fortune tellers and how it took majority of the class to work together and complete the project.


Complexity of Iter has been proven through the length it had taken to reach the initial stages of construction. The earliest start time for this project dates back to 1985 with meetings and discussions between the nations. Today, scientists involved have claimed it will still take another ten years of building work and an extra ten years after that for testing the reactor before it can go online. If you were one of the managers on the team for this project, how would you being planning and creating a Precedence Diagram? Do you think there could be multiple critical paths in a project like this? One of my concerns about an enormous project is the time it takes to complete it. Over time, information becomes stale and the technology used becomes outdated because of the changing markets.

A critical phase of the project is injecting plasma, a super-hot electrically-charged atomic fuel, and it is scheduled for November 2020; unfortunately, because we do not live in a perfect world, there have been delays that pushed this phase back to October 2022. An unforeseen circumstance where a worker left a towel on one of the superconducting cables became compressed within the coil causing extra work by scraping off the debris left behind. I believe this is a perfect opportunity for the project managers to consider crashing this project because it is becoming behind schedule. Do you think that crashing a critical path in such a big project dealing with nuclear reactors would be a good idea to enable them to finish the project by the due date?



Why Microsoft isn’t so hot to enter the Smart Phone market


Article Breakdown

Stated in the article, “Rather than creating a premium device to rival Apple and Samsung in the developed world, Microsoft plans to rely on partners to mine emerging markets with budget smartphones.” Microsoft’s CEO stated that the company as a whole wants to stray away from being strictly a software company to a entity that will focus on devices and services more this the mind set of it yielding more market share. Alternatively, it seems Microsoft is afraid to enter an extremely profitable and competitive market. This market is the smartphone market. Numerous companies have tried to take a piece of this plentiful pie but failed miserably. Microsoft will only take this risk  if it’s partners jump off the cliff first. “Microsoft recognizes that the cost of creating a premium handset to compete at the high-end of the smartphone market against Apple’s iPhone and the Samsung Galaxy S3 is an enormously expensive and risky proposition.” Moreover, the company feels that investing in a market like this isn’t the best use of the company’s resources so instead Microsoft looks to gain this lost ground in, equally as risky, emerging markets. In markets like these they will be focuses on partners like Nokia to establish this.

Some make think that Microsoft surface may have stumbled but the company intends to build devices when its numerous partners aren’t trying to produce gadgets that resonate with the consumers. Markets like that smartphone market in the U.S are extremely developed markets. Some may think this is a perfect chance for Microsoft to take a dive in but the task of displacing Apple and Google with a Microsoft-made product is near impossible. The game with competing with Google and Apple is one Microsoft just doesn’t want to play.

My Opinion

I thought Microsoft’s plan was an extremely thought out and strategic one. Microsoft will be under the radar in the technology game for just a little bit but then will capitalize on the right technology or gadget at the right time. Competing with companies like Google or Apple is near impossible in an already established market. The only way to win this innovation battle is let them win this “fight” and focus on the “war” or the next mind blowing thing. With Microsoft taking all the focus off this market they can truly succeed in a new market and get there before Google and Apple. At the end of the day, it started with Microsoft. Lastly, I feel the quality of Microsoft’s products are on the line if the company attempts to come out with a smart phone because customers are extremely picky about products like these

Questions to consider

1. Is Microsoft making the right choice by taking a safe route and losing market share?

2. How much market share could Microsoft actually capture come Apple and Google?

3. Are there any emerging markets that Microsoft has missed or do you know of any they could capitalize on in the future?

4. How is Microsoft managing its quality?

February 2013 Smart Phone Market Share

Google’s Android: 51.7%

Apple’s iOS: 38.9%

Windows: 3.2%






The Lululemon Management Model

Ever since I discovered Lululemon my first year out of high school, I have been obsessed with their athletic wear.  Because the clothing is way out of my price range, I will admit I only have a few items from the brand. However, the items I do own, I absolutely love. Maybe the Lululemon fit, style, and quality has stolen the hearts of all is customers (as it has mine) and that is why they have such a profitable business. However, I think much of the success is credited to their very strategic business model.

There are three distinct practices that I believe really sets Lululemon apart from its competitors. The first is empowerment. Lululemon stores are not meant to be simply a carbon copy of the some model store. Each manager of the individual Lululemon locations operates their store as if it were their own small business.  The individual stores are not micromanaged by corporate. Instead, the Lululemon is highly decentralized.

Furthermore, managers provide monthly feedback to the design departments. These correspondences between the individual store operators and the design team ensure that ideas and preferences of the managers have an opportunity to influence the next generation of products.

This brings me to my next point: the community-focused approach of Lululemon. Each Lululemon store is expected to not just merely exist in its surrounding but to integrate itself into the community. One way our local Lincoln Park location does this is by offering free yoga classes to on Saturday mornings. Hospitable services, such as the free yoga sessions, build brand loyalty while also facilitating a great service to their community.

The third distinct practice of Lululemon makes them so successful is keeping their inventory extremely scarce. Did you know that Lululemon is able to sell ninety-five percent of their inventory at full price? How many other retail stores do you know that can say that?

Lululemon never has a huge amount of inventory on site because the main distributor does not over produce their products.  But how do they know what is the ideal inventory? Well, the customers tell them. That’s right, some old fashion listening is the secret behind finding the ideal amount of inventory to have in store. The location of the folding tables is thoughtfully places neat the fitting rooms so employees are able to listen in on what their shoppers like and don’t like about the product.  If several people are complaining about an awkward fit of a particular shirt, the employees are trained to notify their manager would can avoid ordering any more of that item.  The company also is able to learn from their mistakes and therefore, if all goes as planned, avoid making such mistakes again.